Manufacturers of electric unicycles are competing to outdo each other in upgrading their new models with fancy equipment. It is neither unusual, nor wrong. It allows us – their customers – to benefit from all the good things they have prepared for us. Still, we may wonder if all these solutions are really as practical and well-thought-out as they seem.
Lights and disco effect
Strobe lights are bright lights that emit a series of really short and intense flashes. Such light pulses can be produced by mechanical or electrical means. They are mostly used by cyclists. Unfortunately, these extremely bright lights (sometimes even dazzling and blinding) are increasingly being used by unicyclists.
Some of them fit such lights to their unicycles thinking they can make them more visible. Some are even convinced that strobe lights increase their level of safety. Still, facts place the whole issue in a different light.
Why is using strobe lights dangerous?
The most dangerous aspect of using strobe lights is their potential for causing the phenomenon of "Target fixation", also known as the "Moth effect" or "Fatal attraction". This phenomenon makes an individual so focused on the observed target that their chances for causing a collision become unintentionally increased. Drivers, pilots and motorcyclists have a tendency to head for lights, especially flashing ones. This effect seems more prevalent among intoxicated drivers or those affected by sleep deprivation. Some justify such behaviour with the fact that flashing lights are not something that is normally present in nature – and this is why humans are not accustomed to seeing them.
Our eyes are most sensitive when exposed to yellow. A red flashing LED is much less visible, especially in the peripheral field of vision. The colour is only best visible when one's eyes are directly focused on a red target.
Just to remind you: The front light of a vehicle serves the purpose of road illumination and it should not be used for decorative purposes. A flashing front light does not provide users of vehicles equipped with strobe lights with road visibility being good enough to make them travel entirely safely.
Well, such a person may be visible to others. Pedestrians, cyclists or other road users are aware of their presence there but let us be honest: what difference does it make in terms of safety if the light user cannot see others well? Using flashing lights also makes the estimation of their position, speed or direction considerably more difficult. Due to this, it becomes much easier to cause an accident.
It is also much easier to distract someone while using such lights. The problem not only lies in their great power alone, but also in the fact that they flash. Rapid flashing of lights is irritating and it easily distracts other road users. Flashing may also prompt seizures in those suffering from photosensitive epilepsy.
The use of strobe lights is dangerous. This is why they have already been prohibited in a number of countries, such as the UK, Russia or the USA. Many European countries (e.g. Germany, England) have introduced very strict rules concerning lights. The use of all types of flashing lamps, both front and rear ones, is strictly prohibited. Sadly, a lot of people use strobe lights anyway and despite the ban. This is usually due to their ignorance of the law or reluctance to observe it. If strobe lights happen to be allowed in a given city, its residents often write petitions to ban them. People are tired of being continually blinded when on the road, as well as they are concerned with their own safety.
It is not advisable to improve the appearance of one's vehicle at the cost of exposing oneself to unnecessary danger. It is better to stick to standard lighting that is available in the case of a given vehicle. Still, it is not merely a question of a fad or trend. People use strobe lighting for the lack of knowledge of how dangerous they are. This is why I would really like to ask you to explain this phenomenon to any of your friends that use such lighting. Maybe it will turn out to be you that could protect them from danger.
Manufacturers of electric unicycles are concerned about the safety of their customers. This is why unicycles by KingSong are equipped with a twilight sensor within their lighting. InMotion manufacturer, in turn, introduced a braking function to its rear lamps in V10 and V10F models at our request. I hope that other unicycle makers will also totally leave behind the idea of implementing strobe lights in their products. This should prevent the uninformed ones from using them.